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Once Upon A Destination Wedding

This afternoon sees the start of a brand new series of blog posts for you lovely readers, which will resonate with anyone planning a destination wedding. We’ll be welcoming Bride-to-be Chiara to RMW once a month for a feature which will cover everything you need to know about planning a destination wedding – with a large pinch of decor and floral inspiration thrown in for good measure.

Chiara lives in London and is getting married to her handsome fiancé Oliver in Umbria, Italy next year. For her first post, we hear the story of how our couple met, the proposal and their overall theme and ideas for the big day. We begin with an epic poem, written for the lovely couple by one of Chiara’s best friends…
CHIARA-AND-OLIVER
Chiara The Bride: So, after several years of man-apathy, and on the brink of what seemed like impending spinsterdom, it finally happened. For the first time in a long time, I crossed eyes with someone across a crowded room who made my heart race and my stomach flutter. Who was this handsome young lothario sitting at the end of the table? And why hadn’t my friend set me up with him?! She told me he was the club’s tennis coach, from Italy, apparently, but moving back to the country in the next month. ‘Perfect’, I thought. I was in need of some eye candy to help me get back in the game, and being foreign he probably wouldn’t realise how terrible my game actually was. Plus, he was leaving the country soon so if things got really awkward I’d never have to seem him again. The conditions were ideal…

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It turns out he’d done his research on me too, and as I made my way to the ladies to lacquer my lips, I heard a loud comment about Malta that made me stall (I’m part Maltese). When I turned around to look, it was none other than the Italian tennis coach – throwing flirtatious comments my way…! Grateful for the easy bait, I made the next move and for the rest of the evening we were inseparable.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I was knee deep in the sea of love. The only obstacle in my way was of course the English Channel and several thousand miles. For in just one week, this Italian dreamboat was leaving London and moving back to Italy for good. To make matters worse, he was also planning a six month trip to South America where he was bound to meet a Brazilian goddess and forget about my existence completely.

So, I did the unthinkable. I defied 15 years of advice on dating etiquette from friends, magazines, that annoying film we all hate to watch in a relationship crisis but is always right, goddammit, and I said the one thing we girls have been tutored NEVER to say. I told him I was falling in love with him. I had nothing to lose after all, but to my complete surprise the gamble paid off and he replied rather naturally, ‘ti amo anche io’.

So despite only knowing each other for three weeks (note: I have had longer relationships with a piece of cheese) we decided to give long distance a go (cue immediate relationship status update on Facebook – only five years in the waiting). The six month trip to South America was subsequently shortened to three, and while it certainly wasn’t easy, we persevered and made it work. As soon as he returned from South America, he moved back to London and here we are now – two and a half years later – engaged to be married!!!!!

The Proposal

I pretty much knew Oliver was going to propose the day he did. Being Italian he’s not shy with his feelings so we’d discussed getting engaged and we’d even looked at rings together, I just wasn’t sure which day he’d pop the question. So when I woke up one morning and found a card on my bedroom mirror saying, ‘meet me tonight under the London Eye’, I guessed that by the end of the day I might just have an engagement ring on my finger!

The entire day at work was a complete write-off. I assumed I’d be as cool as ice based on the fact I knew what was coming, but I was a nervous wreck, unable to focus on anything. I had no idea what he’d planned or how he was going to propose, so the suspense and excitement throughout the day was completely overwhelming.

When I met Oliver at the London Eye, he told me we were revisiting all the places we went on our first few dates, which started off with a romantic stroll along London’s Southbank. After a few pit stops at various bars and dinner at Champagne and Fromage (one of the best places in London for French cheese and meat) we made our way through St James’ Park. As we reached one of the bridges, he told me to close my eyes and I thought to myself – this is it. But instead of putting a ring on my finger, he put a blindfold over my eyes and made me walk for 5 minutes in darkness! When we finally arrived at our destination, he removed the blindfold and we were standing outside Westminster Abbey, in the same spot I’d camped three years previous for the Royal Wedding (it’s true I’m a massive Royalist). He’d prepared a champagne picnic then presented me with an album full of little notes and letters we’d written to each other over the years, pictures of when we first met, dates and holidays we’d been on…it was incredibly touching and it wasn’t long before I was blubbing! When I got to the last page, he stood up, got down on two knees (the one knee proposal isn’t a tradition in Italy and he obviously didn’t know the correct protocol!), presented me with the most beautiful solitaire diamond ring, and asked me to be his wife.

Destination Wedding In Umbria, Italy

The decision to get married in Italy was an easy one. It’s an incredibly beautiful country with the most wonderful culture and cuisine, and we assumed we’d be able to get a lot more for our money than in the UK (which I’ve since discovered is not necessarily the case – prospective destination brides beware!) So shortly after the engagement we set the date for Saturday 24th September 2016. The extended gap has given us time to save money and enjoy being newly engaged before the planning chaos kicks in (and bridezilla comes out)! So with time on our hands we’ve been able to take things in our stride, which has made planning and researching more of a pastime than a chore. The only real difficulty was finalising the guest list (every couple’s worst nightmare), but we’ve ended up inviting around 100 guests and we’ll be celebrating the wedding over a long weekend.

Our Progress To Date

Planning a destination wedding is not for the fainthearted, and unless you’re hiring a wedding planner, advance planning is key! With this in mind, we’ve managed to book all but two of our suppliers within the last four months and we’ve not yet past the year mark (the bridezilla within me is having a party).

So, the date is set and the venue is booked (a former monastery in the deep hills of Umbria); the wedding dress and shoes have been purchased; our Photographer happens to be one of Italy’s most talented and makes every image look like a romantic dream you want to get lost in; our Videographer is one of the few around who’s able to translate the intangible magic and emotion from the wedding day into film; my hair and makeup artist (which I found through this blog) is more talented with a brush than Van Gogh; and I’ve made and sent our ‘Save the Date’ cards by email. So we’ve made good progress so far! Finding a decent live band has been extraordinarily challenging and affordable florists seem practically non-existent, but I’ve identified a few and hopefully before my next blog I’ll have some good contacts that I can share with all the Italian brides out there.

Theme & Style

Once we’d chosen the venue and I’d found my dress, the vision for the day came together very naturally. We’ve taken inspiration from the historic structures of the monastery and raw beauty of the church, which is adorned with the most beautiful ancient frescos. The venue itself is full of antiquity and old world charm so our vision for the day is to create an enchanting, ethereal and romantic atmosphere so our guests feel like they’ve been transported to the bygone days. The floral décor, lighting and ornaments will be natural but evocative, and our colour scheme will feature rich, dark romantic hues combined with muted jewel tones and hints of gold.

We also want our guests to experience true Italian culture and gastronomy at the wedding, so there’ll be a lot of emphasis on food with personal touches and a few DIY projects dotted around the place. Family is very important to us both and we’re very passionate about our own heritage, so we’ll be starting the day off with the ceremony in English and as soon as we’re pronounced husband and wife, the Italian transformation will begin…!

I’m incredibly thankful to everyone at RMW for having me on board and I can’t wait to get started.

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A Destination Wedding In Italy With A Romantic Gothic Theme

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Author: Chiara Raine
Chiara is planning a destination wedding at an ancient monastery in the idyllic Umbrian countryside in Italy 2016.

50 thoughts on “Once Upon A Destination Wedding

  1. Oh what a truly lovely love story! Welcome to the pages of RMW Chiara. Can’t wait to read more about your fabulous plans but I can’t promise not to be a little be jealous of your Umbria nuptials. It sounds perfect. xx

    1. Chiara le tue parole mi Hanno commosso e mi Hanno fatto rivivere dei momenti e dei ricordi a noi così speciali. Sono fiero e contento per Te e per tutto l impegno che hai messo per scrivere queste righe, e per l’impegno che tutti I giorni metti per farmi sentire cosi speciale. Ti amo.
      Chiara, I cant stop reading your words. They are making me feeling so proud. They make me go back in time and dream again about our special moments and about the true love that we have experienced so far. I am looking forward to read your next blog and I am sure it will make me dream again. Ti amo

  2. Great poem! Sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful wedding, look forward to reading more about it in the coming months…

    1. Thanks Valentina, it’s such a great poem isn’t it?! Apparently it took her less than an hour!! So glad you liked the post, please pop back next month for more! xx

  3. Welcome to RMW Chiara……

    What can I say, I LOVE the poem, it had me cooing and laughing and is pure genius, how lovely to have something so personal written for your day, and the proposal….well, that was just unbelievably romantic and had me crying!

    I can see this is going to be an amazing rollercoaster of emotions and I’m SO excited to see how it all progresses, your vision for the day itself sounds absolutely stunning.

    Literally can’t wait for part 2! xx

    1. The poem is pretty special isn’t it…! I was in tears when she read it at our engagement party. She’s such a creative wordsworth! Hope you enjoy the next few posts as much as the first! xx

      1. Thank you! Probably not quite awesome enough anyway, I shall continue to enjoy everyone else’s and the features, love this page!

        1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Kate – are you getting married too or just a mad wedding lover like me?! The next blog will be coming soon so keep your eyes peeled! xx

          1. Hey Chiara, I am indeed getting married! 6th October 2016 so not long after you!

            Look forward to hearing your plans 🙂

  4. I’m so excited to see RMW is featuring a bride contributor! These are my favourite parts of the site. I love the images bordering the post and I’m so excited to follow the progress of the wedding, grateful for all your tips!

    Question though — I’d love to put faces to names! Any photos of the Happy Couple to-be?

    Thanks and CONGRATULATIONS! Your post had me giggling throughout!

    1. Hi Tracey, we’re pleased you like the real Bride features.

      You can see lovely Chiara in the box after the photography credits and you’ll have to check in for Chiara’s future posts to see Oliver!!!

      Fern x

    2. Thanks for your lovely comments Tracey 🙂 RMW is so great for inspiration and planning tips. Are you getting married soon?! Thrilled you love the graphics and hope it provided you some good inspiration! Oliver will be making an appearance at some stage, so you’ll just have to stay tuned!! Thanks again for your sweet comments xx

  5. Hooray Chiara’s first post 🙂

    The poem is amazing – what lovely friends you have.

    We’re all really excited to share the journey with you! Your vision for the big day is just sublime, can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

    Fern x

  6. Chiara, such a touching and thoughtful poem from your friend. No doubt your wedding will be amazing and I’m looking forward to reading your coming posts. x

  7. Chiara le tue parole mi Hanno commosso e mi Hanno fatto rivivere dei momenti e dei ricordi a noi così speciali. Sono fiero e contento per Te e per tutto l impegno che hai messo per scrivere queste righe, e per l’impegno che tutti I giorni metti per farmi sentire cosi speciale. Ti amo.
    Chiara, I cant stop reading your words. They are making me feeling so proud. They make me go back in time and dream again about our special moments and about the true love that we have experienced so far. I am looking forward to read your next blog and I am sure it will make me dream again. Ti amo

  8. Lucky you, Chiara! I got married three weeks ago in Orvieto, Umbria and am still mourning the loss of planning the best day of our lives! If you’re looking for a band who go the extra mile (AKA are totally crazy and GUARANTEED to give you and your guests an amazing party) I’d highly recommend The GLoVes. All our guests were raving about them. Good luck! x

    1. No, lucky you!!! Orvieto is absolutely beautiful! We stayed one night in the old town during a recce visit in May and we both fell completely in love with it (that Cathedral….just insane!!) I’m not surprised you’re wishing back the days! Where exactly did you get married? And how was your overall experience planning from afar? Did you get a planner? Thanks so much for the band recommendation, I’m on google right now! 🙂 xx

      1. We had the ceremony in a Palazzo in Orvieto itself, then the reception in a deconsecrated cathedral with an amazing terrace. The upside of having everything in Orvieto was that accommodation for everyone was very easy – we had 100+ guests, like you! We did have a planner to help with logistics – although most of the detail we organised ourselves and we drove over the fruits of our DIY labour the week before. I don’t think I could have done it without someone on the ground though! RMW was my bible – can’t wait to hear how you get on over the coming months 🙂 x

        1. Was it La Domus by chance…?? If it was, that venue is truly amazing! After we left Orvieto I kept thinking how perfect it would be for a wedding location as everyone could stay in the old town and properly experience the Italian way of life. Our venue is in the middle of the hills, I don’t even think there are tvs….! xx

          1. It was indeed! It was certainly the perfect place for a boozy party 😉 We were seriously tempted by La Badia – did you see that one? It sounds like your venue is PERFETTO. If I could do it all again, I’d love an ancient ruin tucked away in the hills… Do let me know if there’s anything else you’d like info on – although it sounds like you’re basically sorted! xx

            1. La Badia is so incredibly beautiful! I think we ruled it out because the accommodation was quite expensive and we wanted to keep costs low as possible for the guests. But it is one stunning venue! I looked at the band you recommended – they seem completely crazy/wonderful! We’re going to Italy in a few weeks so I’m hoping we might be able to meet them while we’re there – so thank you for that recommendation! I’ll be dabbling in the details soon so any advice or pointers will always be appreciated 🙂 xx

  9. Mother of the beautiful bride says: wonderful first blog & can’t wait to read the next as there’s so much more to tell your readers! ??????

  10. Loved reading this Chiara. What a sweet meeting & proposal, love how he planned it all out especially for you. And your wedding sounds like an UTTER dream. Really looking forward to reading how all your plans go and love that you’ve sorted most of it. I’m exactly the same, most of our suppliers were booked within months of getting engaged, leaving us airh a bit of “twiddling our thumbs” time – but now it’s back into action! 9 month count down!! Xx

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it 🙂 The boy definitely did well, I was totally shocked. High five to organised brides! I’m hoping the early planning will take away some of the stress later down the line. And better to book early so you can get the suppliers you really want! When and where are you getting married? Invitations are the next big thing on my list – are you on to that yet? xx

  11. I have loved reading your first post Chiara! What an absolutely perfect engagement story as well – your fiance sounds like such a romantic! I am getting married in Umbria too on the 31 August 2016 so will be following this religiously. We are struggling too to find a band at the moment so am looking forward to hear what you come up with – we’re currently considering flying someone over from the UK.
    Would you mind sharing who you have chosen for your hair and makeup? I am yet to decide but wanted to get it booked ASAP. Can’t wait for the next installment xxx

    1. Haha, he will love that you said that! It seems Italians take compliments very well (too well)! I’m so excited your getting married in Umbria at the same time – we can share our planning highs/lows along the way! Finding a decent band is not easy is it?! Italians singing English covers just doesn’t seem to work that well..! Won’t it be super expensive to fly a band over? We’re going over in two weeks and are meeting a few bands so I’ll let you know how I get on.

      Giulia Cresci is doing my hair and makeup and she’s hands down the best! You may have already heard of her through this blog but she does fashion shoots for all sorts and her makeup collection is international (yippee!). Hair and make-up artists in Italy do tend to be a lot more costly than in the UK, but after ages agonising over it I just decided to treat myself so I could relax knowing I was in the hands of someone super talented. Other ones I came across were Lara Navarini, Janita Helova, Milo Sabaniz (who has a salon in London where you can do the hair trial) and Lisa Faulkener. Hope that helps! xx

      1. We contacted Scarlett Entertainment and they sent us a few good options but they ended up around the same as our quote for flying someone over. Although its not for a full band – its for an acoustic guitarist who also DJ’s and he will do 2 x 45 minute sets and also sing at the ceremony and then do a DJ set. I’m really interested to see who you choose!
        Oh yes I have seen Giulia’s work and all of her brides just look perfect! I am agonising over the decision at the moment too because I’ve had cheaper quotes but I know she would do such an amazing job ! I completely agree with you and I think you are helping me reach a decision 🙂 xxx

        1. I contacted Scarlett Entertainment too but the quality of the bands for our budget weren’t any better than ones in Italy, and the cost was a lot more. A live band would be amazing for the party but we don’t want to waste money on an average band just for the sake of it, so our priority is finding some decent live music for the aperitivo and a dj for the party, unless one of the bands comes up trumps!

          Re hair and makeup, I know it seems an awful lot to spend – it is! But the prices of the other hair and makeup artists I contacted (including a trial) were only €100-€150 less, so I’m happy to pay that little bit more knowing I’ll get a better service. I could easily do my own hair and makeup and do it well, so if I’m
          spending a lot of money I want to make sure it’s well spent! Often when I’m being indecisive about something, I take this approach…. If you contacted G tomorrow and she said she was no longer available on your wedding day, would you feel annoyed or slightly relieved…?! That’s a good way of realising what is really important to you. Also, when I realised what average cost for hair & makeup plus a trial, I started rummaging around my possessions to see if I could make any money from things I no longer use! So I don’t feel bad about the expense any more knowing I’ve helped pay for it from free money, so to speak…! How much have you been quoted for the cheaper ones? Xx

  12. Haha, he will love that you said that! It seems Italians take compliments very, very well! I’m so excited your getting married in Umbria at the same time – we can share our stories and planning highs/lows along the way! Finding a decent band is not easy. Italians singing English covers just doesn’t seem to work that well..! Won’t it be super expensive to fly a band over? We’re going over in two weeks and are meeting a few bands so I’ll let you know how I get on.

    Giulia Cresci is doing my hair and makeup and she’s hands down the best! I’m sure you’ve probably already heard of her on blog but she does fashion shoots for all sorts and her makeup collection is internations (yippee!). Hair and make-up artists in Italy do tend to be a lot more costly than in the UK, but after ages agonising over it I just decided to treat myself so I could relax knowing I was in the hands of someone super talented. Other ones I came across were Lara Navarini, Janita Helova, Milo Sabaniz (who has a salon in London where you can do the hair trial) and Lisa Faulkener. Hope that helps! xx

  13. Yay Chiara!!!!!!!! I absolutely LOVED reading this. Epic. And that proposal gave me chills. I’m so thrilled to see you here on the pages of RMW. Can’t wait to continue hearing all about your wedding plans.
    P.S. Promise to reply to that email today! 😉 xxx

    1. Shucks ☺️ I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I still have your blog bookmarked to every single mobile device I own which I regularly consult haha! Always my inspiration!! ? xxx

  14. What a beautiful love story Chiara and Oliver! And a really interesting and amusing blog Chiara, so well written. It’s probably a good way to sort out your thoughts when you write them down like this. Can’t wait to read the next instalment! All the best! x

    1. Thank you Helen, I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Writing things down definitely helps make sense of things, and it’s a good way to see how much we’ve accomplished too! Please come back next month for more! xx

  15. Wow such a lovely story (Congratulations!) and the poem is a fantastic way to capture the tale – it’ll be a tough act to follow for the best man! Looking forward to reading more about your plans for the big day – triumphs and hurdles, we want all the details 🙂

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